Huckeba Welcomes Dual Role

FAYETTEVILLE -- Jeb Huckeba spent his first two years at Arkansas playing linebacker. He spent his last two with the Razorbacks at defensive end.

Now, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder hopes his collegiate experience at both positions will help him earn a place on the 2005 NFL Draft board in April. Huckeba was disappointed he didn't receive an invitation to last month's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but worked out for scouts at Arkansas' on-campus pro day Wednesday.

"The more things you can do in the NFL, the more chances you have of making a team," Huckeba said after his workout. "If it comes down to it, I can be more versatile and play on special teams. I want to play whatever they want me to play.

"It definitely is a plus to have the experience (at linebacker and defensive end). It was tough making the transition, but I'm glad I was able to do it."

Huckeba ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times and had a 33 1/2-inch vertical leap. He worked out at defensive end and linebacker during position specific drills and is hoping his versatility will pay off.

Huckeba said roughly 75 percent of the teams he has spoken with are interested in seeing him work out at defensive end. The rest believe he is better fit for linebacker.

"He's a hybrid guy," said Baltimore Ravens personnel assistant and former Arkansas offensive lineman Jeremiah Washburn. "We were in the 3-4 (defense). Now, we're going to do a little more hybrid 4-3. But he can still fit. He's going to make his mark on special teams as far as his effort and he has some speed. He'll do well with that."

Huckeba spent five weeks at a training facility in Phoenix preparing for his workouts in front of NFL scouts. He added only three or four pounds to his frame, but said he shed weight around the waist and added muscle to his upper body.

And he's hoping to improve even more during the March 30 on-campus workout.

"It's a little nerve-racking, your first experience like this," Huckeba said. "I did the best I could. That's all you can ask for."

Birmingham Bummed
Washburn also said running back DeCori Birmingham added to his resume before the 2005 NFL Draft on Wednesday. But Birmingham was disappointed in his 40 time.

Birmingham, who attended last month's NFL Combine, scratched his first two attempts after getting off to "rolling" starts Wednesday. Times in the 40 aren't counted if players fail to pause in their stance at the starting line before taking off.

"The 40 really got me upset," Birmingham said. "The first one, I rolled it. The second one, I don't think I did. After awhile, you get kind of brain dead on the 40."

Birmingham eventually ran the 40 in 4.55 seconds, but said he turned in a better hand-held time in Indianapolis. He said attending Wednesday's workout will give him more "exposure" after the combine. But Birmingham will make another attempt at the 40 during the March 30 on-campus pro date if he can "get that start right."

Slower Day
Arkansas showed off its new track surface and weight room to scouts Wednesday, but the Hogs were greeted with a smaller turnout than usual.

Of course, most of it had to do with a smaller draft-eligible class than 2004, when the Razorbacks lost two dozen seniors and five juniors. But Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said the turnout, which was comprised of 22 coaches and scouts, was affected by quarterback Alex Smith's decision to work out at Utah on Wednesday.

Smith will likely be one of the top picks during April's draft.

"A lot of people went to Utah," Nutt said. "But we would have a real good turnout if you have (departed juniors) (Ahmad Carroll), Shawn Andrews, Jason Peters and Lawrence Richardson where they should be (Wednesday)."

Quick Hits
Receiver Steven Harris ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds, turned in a 40-inch vertical leap and completed the 3-cone, 'L' drill in 6.9 seconds. Harris, who joined quarterback Matt Jones during a private workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars last Friday, said he has a workout with the Miami Dolphins scheduled for early April. ... Defensive tackle Arrion Dixon ran the 40 in 5.1 seconds. Washburn said Dixon should find a spot in an NFL camp next fall because his position is "such a premium in the league. Someone with his height (6-4) and weight (310) is going to get a shot." ... Defensive end Elliott Harris, linebacker Marcus Whitmore, defensive tackle Titus Peebles and offensive lineman Gene Perry were among the 12 Hogs that worked out Wednesday. Former Hog C.J. McLain also participated.

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